Dunloy, Ballymena

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Emmett's Face Tough Castleblayney Test

Rory McQuillan in county final action. Pic: Cushendun GAC Facebook.

The Emmett's odyssey across Ulster reaches a finale this Sunday in Armagh.

Having come through Antrim strongly, the step up into Ulster has been navigated with some style, the Cushendun men first overcoming Derry's Na Magha before breezing past Sean Treacey's of Lurgan in the Semi-Final to reach Sunday's decider.

Before their opening round in Ulster, manager Chris Dornan talked up the free-flowing passing game that his charges have implemented so effectively throughout his tenure.

"I took a look at the lads we had coming through and knew they had the talent and the skill to play that short passing game and after working at it, It's great to see the boys have bought into it an executed it."

A county final total of 1-23 in very tricky conditions at Ballycastle were followed by an excellent 2-16 against the Armagh champions. They then followed up with 2-23 in the Semi-Final. These players know exactly where the posts are.

While David Kilgore, James Morgan and Conleth McNeill provide an excellent cutting edge in the forward line, Conor McHugh has been instrumental in leading the Emmett's charge through Ulster, hitting 0-16 over the Quarter Final and Semi-Final.

David Kilgore, Man of the Match in the county final against Glenarm.

In defence, captain Mark Scally leads in determined fashion and is the springboard for many attacks in the half-back line, while Aidan Corbett is a solid choice at full back for Cushendun.

Their opponents Castleblayney Hurling Club are no strangers to success in this competition, and lead the way in their native Monaghan with 28 club championships. They last took home the Ulster JHC crown in 2014 and were winners previously back in 2005.

The Farney men also contested the 2011 Intermediate Hurling final, where their neighbouring countymen Middletown Na Fianna turned them over.

Kilkenny native Jimmy Lacey, who also double-jobs as club chairman, is the current Castleblayney bainisteoir, assisted on the line by Barry O'Reilly. Lacey featured at wing-back on the 2014 side and has a wealth of experience to bring to the post.

Peter Treanor mans the defence for the Monaghan men, ably assisted by Cormac McNally, Jim McHugh and Bernard Connor, all of whom will have their hands full with the lively Cushendun forward unit.

The Castleblayney HC team celebrate victory over Burt in the Ulster Quarter Final. Pic: Castleblayney Hurling Club Facebook.

The attacking trio of Mark Treanor, Fergal Rafter and Brian McGuigan will hope to cause the Emmett's defence some problems of their own, with Rafter and McGuigan both raising green flags in their victories over both Clonduff of Down and Burt of Donegal on their way to the final.

Cushendun have very little experience in competing at this level, while their opponents Castleblayney have been around the doors a few times before. If the Emmett's can get their free-flowing game moving again in the Athletic Grounds, they could be setting a course for the All-Ireland Semi-Finals in the new year.

#UlsterClub #UlsterJHC

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